Jesekiel David Kirszenbaum (1900-1954) – Student of the Bauhaus

Self-portrait, ca. 1925. Oil on canvas, 55 x 37.5 cm
Self-portrait, ca. 1925. Oil on canvas, 55 x 37.5 cm

Diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the 1950s, Kirszenbaum reflected on his time at the Bauhaus in a series of abstracted or complete abstract images. At first glance, two watercolours showing fish in front of abstract backgrounds (Fig. 56, 58) are reminiscent of the painting produced by Paul Klee in 1925 entitled “The Goldfish” (Hamburg Art Gallery/Hamburger Kunsthalle). The artist constructed watercolours and gouaches using abstract textures (Fig. 57) and arabesques from free organic forms, like the ones created by Mondrian and Kandinsky around 1910. The combination of figurative and free-form shapes, as seen in his watercolour of an “Abstract garden”[109], is also reminiscent of Roger Bissière, a member of the École de Paris, who in his early years also modelled his work on Klee’s style. A last recollection of Staszów, “The Prophet Elijah” (Fig. 59), follows on from the images of the Arrival of the Messiah in the shtetl, and shows the familiar folksy figures in front of the backdrop of the town. However, the prophet, not the Redeemer, becomes the main figure who, according to biblical tradition, is carried away to heaven by fiery horses (2 Kings 2, 11).

Kirszenbaum died of cancer in 1954. Retrospectives were held in 1955 in the Galerie Tsavta in Jerusalem and in 1962 in the Galerie Karl Flinker in Paris in the Rue du Bac 34. Friedrich Hagen wrote an extensive essay about the artist’s life and work in the Flinker catalogue.

 

Axel Feuß, October 2019

 

We would like to thank the great nephews of Jesekiel Kirszenbaum, Nathan and Amos Diament (Tel Aviv) for generously providing us with information, photographs and permission to reproduce the works, and we would also like to thank Ms Anna Taube (Osnabrück, formerly of the Goethe Institute, Tel Aviv) for her kind support in acquiring information.

 

Literature:

Yechezkel Kirszenbaum: Childhood and Youth in Staszów. From “Life Chapters of a Jewish Artist”, translated by Leonard Levin, originally in Hebrew in: Sefer Staszów (The Staszów Book), published by Elhanan Erlich, Tel Aviv 1962, page 221-229, online: https://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/staszow/sta221.html; again in: J.D. Kirszenbaum 2013 (see below), page 129-170

Revolution and Realism. Revolutionary art in Germany 1917 to 1933, Exhibition catalogue, Berlin State Museums/Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, (East) Berlin 1978

Inna Goudz: Herwarth Walden and the Jewish artists of the Avantgarde, in: Der Sturm. Centre of the Avantgarde, Volume 2: Essays, Exhibition catalogue Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal 2012, page 515-540

Johanna Linsler: Jesekiel David Kirszenbaum, between revolutionary ambition and memories of the shtetl/Jesekiel David Kirszenbaum, entre aspiration révolutionaire et mémoire du shtetl / Jesekiel David Kirszenbaum, zwischen revolutionärem Streben und Erinnerungen an das Schtetl, in: Anne Grynberg / Johanna Linsler: L’Irréparable. Itineraries of artists and amateurs of Jewish art, refugees of the “Third Reich” in France/Itinéraires d’artistes et d’amateurs d’art juifs, réfugiés du „Troisième Reich“ en France / Irreparabel. The lives of Jewish artists, and art connoisseurs on the run from the “Third Reich” in France/Lebenswege jüdischer Künstlerinnen, Künstler und Kunstkenner auf der Flucht aus dem „Dritten Reich“ in Frankreich, published by the Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg, Magdeburg 2013, page 265-289 / 290-314

J.D. Kirszenbaum (1900-1954). The Lost Generation. From Staszów to Paris, via Weimar, Berlin and Rio de Janeiro / La génération perdue. De Staszów à Paris, via Weimar, Berlin et Rio de Janeiro, published by Nathan Diament, Paris 2013; including: Baron David de Rothschild: Alix de Rothschild: Student and Benefactor / Alix de Rothschild, élève et bienfaitrice, page 11; Nadine Nieszawer: Jechezkiel Kirszenbaum, a Jewish Artist of the School of Paris / Jechezkiel Kirszenbaum, un artiste juif de l’École de Paris, page 13-16; Nathan Diament: A Personal Pathway / Un cheminement personnel, page 21-32; Caroline Goldberg Igra: Kirszenbaum’s Artistic Journey / Le parcours artistique de Kirszenbaum, page 35-124

Caroline Goldberg Igra: The Restoration of Loss: Jechezkiel David Kirszenbaum’s Exploration of Personal Displacement, in: Ars Judaica, published by the Bar-Ilan University, Faculty of Jewish Studies, Department of Jewish Art, Nr. 10, Ramat Gan 2014, page 69-92

Nadine Nieszawer / Deborah Princ and others: Artistes juifs de l’École de Paris 1905-1939 / Jewish Artists of the School of Paris, Paris 2015, page 177 f. / 428 f., online: http://ecoledeparis.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/1.pdf

J.D. Kirszenbaum (1900-1954). Retrospektiva/Retrospective, exhibition catalogue Muzej Mimara/The Mimara Museum, Zagreb 2018

 

All electronic links were last accessed in October 2019.
 

Mediathek
  • Fig. 1: J.D. Kirszenbaum, 1920

    Fig. 1: J.D. Kirszenbaum, 1920

    J.D. Kirszenbaum drawing a portrait, 1920. Photograph owned by the family
  • Fig. 2: Study of Maïmonide, 1925

    Fig. 2: Study of Maïmonide, 1925

    Studying the Maïmonide, 1925. Ink on paper, 50 x 32 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 3: Musicians and their disciples, 1925

    Fig. 3: Musicians and their disciples, 1925

    Musicians and their disciples, 1925. Ink on paper, 50 x 32 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 4: Sorrow, ca. 1925

    Fig. 4: Sorrow, ca. 1925

    Sorrow, ca. 1925. Watercolour, 35.5 x 25 cm, Jewish Historical Institute/Żydowski Instytut Historyczny im. Emanuela Ringelbluma, Warsaw
  • Fig. 5: Fiddler in the Shtetl, ca. 1925

    Fig. 5: Fiddler in the Shtetl, ca. 1925

    Fiddler in the Shtetl, ca. 1925 Oil on canvas, 90 x 71 cm, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem
  • Fig. 6: The wedding, 1925

    Fig. 6: The wedding, 1925

    The wedding, 1925. Ink on paper, 28 x 22 cm, Jewish Historical Institute/Żydowski Instytut Historyczny im. Emanuela Ringelbluma, Warsaw
  • Fig. 7: In the Beth Hamedrasch, ca. 1925

    Fig. 7: In the Beth Hamedrasch, ca. 1925

    In the Beth Hamedrasch, ca. 1925. Etching, 15 x 12 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 8: Midnight prayer, ca. 1925

    Fig. 8: Midnight prayer, ca. 1925

    Midnight prayer, ca. 1925. Etching, 15 x 12 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 9: Yom Kippur, ca. 1925

    Fig. 9: Yom Kippur, ca. 1925

    Yom Kippur prayer, ca. 1925. Etching, 10 x 14 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 10: Hassidim, 1925

    Fig. 10: Hassidim, 1925

    Dance of the Hassidim, 1925. Drypoint etching, 25 x 17.5 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 11: Cossack pogrom, ca. 1930

    Fig. 11: Cossack pogrom, ca. 1930

    Pogrom by the Cossacks, ca. 1930. Etching, 25 x 27 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 12: Water carrier, 1925/26

    Fig. 12: Water carrier, 1925/26

    Water carrier, 1925/26. Illustration to accompany: Adam Olearius, Die erste russische Revoulution (1656), in: Der Querschnitt, Volume 7, Berlin 1927, Issue 3, page 195
  • Fig. 13: Harmonica player, 1925/26

    Fig. 13: Harmonica player, 1925/26

    Harmonica player, 1925/26. Illustration to accompany: S. Dimitrijewski, Stalin – Aufstieg eines Mannes, in: Der Querschnitt, Volume 11, Berlin 1931, Issue 6, page 367
  • Fig. 14: Fiddler, 1926

    Fig. 14: Fiddler, 1926

    Fiddler, 1926. Illustration to accompany: Ramon Gomez de la Serna: Maria Wassiljewna. Russische Novelle, in: Der Querschnitt, Volume 9, Berlin 1929, Issue 2, page 95
  • Fig. 15: Satirical illustrations, 1926

    Fig. 15: Satirical illustrations, 1926

    Three satirical illustrations. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 55th Edition, No. 21, 12 March 1926, page 82
  • Fig. 16: Three cartoons, 1926

    Fig. 16: Three cartoons, 1926

    Three cartoons. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 55th Edition, No. 21, 28 May 1926, page 158
  • Fig. 17: Carte blanche for the “truth”!, 1926

    Fig. 17: Carte blanche for the “truth”!, 1926

    Carte blanche for the “truth”! In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 55th Edition, No. 26, 2 July 1926, page 195
  • Fig. 18: Mistaken, 1926

    Fig. 18: Mistaken, 1926

    Mistaken. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 55th Edition, No. 35, 3 September 1926, page 267
  • Fig. 19: Three cartoons, 1926

    Fig. 19: Three cartoons, 1926

    Three cartoons. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 55th Edition, No. 36, 10 September 1926, page 274
  • Fig. 20: Buds of the Nation, 1926

    Fig. 20: Buds of the Nation, 1926

    Buds of the Nation. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 55th Edition, No. 47, 26 November 1926, page 367
  • Fig. 21: Film stars, 1927

    Fig. 21: Film stars, 1927

    Film stars. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 5, 4 February 1927, page 38
  • Fig. 22: The sporty friend of the family, 1927

    Fig. 22: The sporty friend of the family, 1927

    The sporty friend of the family In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 6, 11 February 1927, page 43
  • Fig. 23: Beauty treatment, 1927

    Fig. 23: Beauty treatment, 1927

    Beauty treatment. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 11, 18 March 1927, page 83
  • Fig. 24: Tedious times, 1927

    Fig. 24: Tedious times, 1927

    Tedious times. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 14, 8 April 1927, page 107
  • Fig. 25: Dawn, 1927

    Fig. 25: Dawn, 1927

    Dawn. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 17, 29 April 1927, page 126
  • Fig. 26: Patriotism, 1927

    Fig. 26: Patriotism, 1927

    Patriotism. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 18, 6 May 1927, page 134
  • Fig. 27: Summer fashion, 1927

    Fig. 27: Summer fashion, 1927

    Summer fashion. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 25, 24 June 1927, page 187
  • Fig. 28: Difficult case, 1927

    Fig. 28: Difficult case, 1927

    Difficult case. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 30, 29 July 1927, page 230
  • Fig. 29: Remedy for obesity, 1927

    Fig. 29: Remedy for obesity, 1927

    Remedy for obesity. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 41, 14 October 1927, page 319
  • Fig. 30: Two cartoons, 1927

    Fig. 30: Two cartoons, 1927

    Two cartoons. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 56th Edition, No. 45, 11 November 1927, page 351
  • Fig. 31: The Expressionists´ Ball, 1928

    Fig. 31: The Expressionists´ Ball, 1928

    The Expressionists´ Ball. In: Ulk. Weekly Publication of the Berliner Tageblatt, 57th Edition, No. 44, 2 November 1928, page 354
  • Fig. 32: The art enthusiast, 1929

    Fig. 32: The art enthusiast, 1929

    The art enthusiast. In: Jugend, 34th Edition, Munich 1929, No. 28, page 450
  • Fig. 33: Everyone once in prison, 1929

    Fig. 33: Everyone once in prison, 1929

    Everyone once in prison. In: Jugend, 34th Edition, Munich 1929, No. 37, page 597
  • Fig. 34: Snippets of conversation, 1931

    Fig. 34: Snippets of conversation, 1931

    Snippets of conversation. In: Jugend, 36th Edition, Munich 1931, No. 29, page 457
  • Fig. 35: The table of regulars, 1931

    Fig. 35: The table of regulars, 1931

    The table of regulars. Illustration to accompany: Jules Sauerwein, Verständnis für Deutschland, in: Der Querschnitt, Volume 11, Berlin 1931, Issue 5, page 291
  • Fig. 36: Matadors of the Reichstag, 1931

    Fig. 36: Matadors of the Reichstag, 1931

    Matadors of the Reichstag. Illustration to accompany: O.B. Server, Matadore des Reichstags VII, in: Der Querschnitt, Volume 11, Berlin 1931, Issue 8, page 555
  • Fig. 37: Man with cigarette, 1935

    Fig. 37: Man with cigarette, 1935

    Man with cigarette, 1935. Watercolour, 47 x 35 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 38: The Jewish villagers, 1937

    Fig. 38: The Jewish villagers, 1937

    The Jewish villagers greeting the Messiah, 1937. Oil on artist’s board, 59 x 69 cm, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • Fig. 39: The arrival of the Messiah, 1939

    Fig. 39: The arrival of the Messiah, 1939

    The arrival of the Messiah in the village, 1939. Oil on canvas, 60 x 75 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 40: Family on the move, 1939

    Fig. 40: Family on the move, 1939

    Family with wagon on the move, 1939. From the series: Exodus, etching, 10 x 12 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 41: Fleeing, 1939

    Fig. 41: Fleeing, 1939

    Fleeing, 1939. From the series: Exodus, etching, 9 x 12 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 42: Water carrier, 1942

    Fig. 42: Water carrier, 1942

    Water carrier from Staszów, 1942. Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 43: The Messiah, 1942

    Fig. 43: The Messiah, 1942

    The Messiah and angels arriving in the village, 1942. Oil on canvas, 40 x 45 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 44: On the run, 1945

    Fig. 44: On the run, 1945

    A mother and two children on the run, 1945. Oil on paintersá card, 37 x 37 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 45: Man from Staszów, ca. 1946

    Fig. 45: Man from Staszów, ca. 1946

    Man from Staszów, ca. 1946. Oil on canvas, 50 x 45 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 46: Jew with pipe

    Fig. 46: Jew with pipe

    Portrait of Jew with pipe, undated. Oil on canvas, 61 x 45.4 cm, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • Fig. 47: The Messiah in the shtetl, 1946

    Fig. 47: The Messiah in the shtetl, 1946

    The arrival of the Messiah in the shtetl, 1946. Oil on canvas, 40 x 45 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 48: Rabbi, 1947

    Fig. 48: Rabbi, 1947

    Rabbi, 1947. Oil on canvas, 75 x 60 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 49: No room for Jews

    Fig. 49: No room for Jews

    There is no room for Jews in our world, undated. Oil on canvas, 33 x 40 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 50: Self-portrait, 1946

    Fig. 50: Self-portrait, 1946

    Self-portrait, 1946. Oil on canvas, 78 x 60 cm, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem
  • Fig. 51: Portrait of Robert Giraud, 1946

    Fig. 51: Portrait of Robert Giraud, 1946

    Portrait of Robert Giraud, 1946. Oil on canvas, 46 x 37 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 52: The butcher, 1947/48

    Fig. 52: The butcher, 1947/48

    The butcher (Le Boucher), 1947/48. Watercolour, 54 x 41 cm, Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris
  • Fig. 53: Brazilian boy, 1947

    Fig. 53: Brazilian boy, 1947

    Brazilian boy with kite, 1947. Oil on canvas, 46 x 25 cm, Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod
  • Fig. 54: Festa de São João, 1952

    Fig. 54: Festa de São João, 1952

    Festa de São João in São Paulo, 1952. Oil on canvas, 117 x 80 cm, Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris
  • Fig. 55: In his Parisian studio, ca. 1952

    Fig. 55: In his Parisian studio, ca. 1952

    J.D. Kirszenbaum in his studio in Paris, ca. 1952. Photograph owned by the family
  • Fig. 56: Fish with abstract background

    Fig. 56: Fish with abstract background

    Fish with abstract background, undated. Watercolour, 30 x 48 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 57: Abstract

    Fig. 57: Abstract

    Abstract, undated. Gouache, 17 x 22,5 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 58: Fish, 1954

    Fig. 58: Fish, 1954

    Fish on flat background, 1954. Oil on canvas, 35 x 28 cm, owned by the family
  • Fig. 59: The Prophet Elijah, ca. 1954

    Fig. 59: The Prophet Elijah, ca. 1954

    The Prophet Elijah, ca. 1954. Watercolour, 75 x 95 cm, owned by the family
  • PDF 1: Der Sturm catalogue, 1927

    J.D. Kirschenbaum exhibition. Paintings, watercolours, drawings, Der Sturm catalogue, Berlin, April 1927
  • PDF 2: Die Rote Fahne, 1931

    Alfred Durus: Ein Künstler des ostjüdischen Proletariats. J.D. Kirschenbaum, in: Die Rote Fahne dated 5 November 1931
  • PDF 3: Ten watercolours by Kirszenbaum, 1953

    Ten watercolours by Kirszenbaum. Inspired by the Hassidic legends of I. L. Peretz. Preface by Waldemar George, Paris: Au pont des arts, 1953